There has been a lot of discussion over the last couple of weeks about how to address the current situation in Iraq. It’s an ever-evolving situation with many moving parts. But certainly, the violence in Iraq right now is incredibly disturbing.

Rep. Lois Capps

Rep. Lois Capps

As your congressional representative for the Central Coast, I have heard from many of you expressing your concern about sending U.S. troops back to Iraq. I want you to know that I share these very real concerns.

As someone who voted against the original war in Iraq in 2002, I still believe there is no U.S. military solution to this crisis. Voting against the war wasn’t an easy decision, and it certainly was not a popular one at the time. But I believed then — and continue to believe now — that any and all commitments of U.S. military forces must be considered with the greatest of care and be the last resort.

It is my hope that the Iraqi people can achieve peace, but I do not believe sending troops back to Iraq will accomplish that, nor is it in our nation’s strategic, security or economic interests to do so.

An Iraqi-led effort is needed to fix what is unfolding in there, including the political situation that led up to it. The leadership of Iraq — and all Iraqis — must come together to overcome their differences as they work to be a safe, stable country.

That is why I recently joined my California colleague Rep. Barbara Lee, Virginia Republican Rep. Scott Rigell and more than 50 other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in sending a letter to President Barack Obama expressing our grave concerns with any additional U.S. military involvement in Iraq and reiterating that any solution to this complex crisis can only be achieved through a political settlement, rather than through military force. The letter also made clear that the president should seek congressional authorization before taking any military action in Iraq so that our constituents’ voices can be heard.

The Obama administration has announced that the U.S. will not send combat troops back to Iraq, but that a limited number of military advisers will be made available to assist the Iraqi government. We as a nation must fully debate our role in the Iraqi conflict before any efforts are made to send combat troops back into Iraq.

Like many of you, I pray for the innocent Iraqis caught in this violence, and as Americans we must continue to support our troops stationed around the world.

Thank you for all of your feedback, comments and concerns about this difficult foreign affairs situation. Being a member of Congress means carefully considering the feedback from residents when weighing decisions, and I will continue to do that with this issue and any others that come before me here in Congress.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, represents California’s 24th Congressional District.